Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Norwood takes couple's 35-year home

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - As Carl Jr. and Joy Gamble watched, Norwood City Council Tuesday completed the city's acquisition of the home they have lived in for 35 years.

After council voted 8-1 to ratify the city's seizure of their property for commercial development, Carl Gamble Jr. stood up to leave and said softly, "It stinks."

The Gambles and the owners of four other pieces of property have been embroiled in a two-year eminent-domain battle with Norwood. The city will turn the property over to the developers of the planned Rookwood Exchange, a $125 million complex of offices, shops, housing and restaurants.

The developers, Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate and the Miller-Valentine Group, want to tear down the Gambles' house and the other 70 homes and businesses in the area between Edwards Road and Interstate 71 to build Rookwood Exchange.

They negotiated sale prices with the other 66 property owners who want to sell and move out.

The Gambles received a 90-day eviction notice on Nov. 1. Last month, a Hamilton County jury ruled that the Gambles' home is worth $280,000.

"It's devastating," Joy Gamble said. "It's heart-breaking. But we will continue to fight."

She said she and her husband plan to ask Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to prevent the demolition of their property until after their court appeal is heard early next year.

Several council members expressed sympathy for the Gambles, but said they had to do what was best for the city. Rookwood Exchange is expected to generate about $2 million a year in earnings tax revenue for the financially troubled city.

"I don't like to remove anyone from their home," Councilman Mike Fulmer said. "But it is in the best interests of the city to take this property."

Councilman Keith Moore cast the only "no" vote. He said he didn't believe government could see clearly enough into the future to know what was best for Norwood.

City Council recently passed an ordinance to take the rental house of another holdout property owner, Joe Horney. Horney's case is under court appeal.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, council voted 8-1 to give the mayor and the administration the authority to seize the other three holdout properties, which are small businesses.

The holdout property owners attended the council meeting to offer verbal and moral support for the Gambles.

"Let the Gambles stay in their house at least until their appeal is heard," said Nick Motz, whose wife owns one of three business properties being seized.

When council completed their action on the holdout properties, some of the property owners began chanting, "Shame on you. Shame on you."


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